Written by David Campos (@magicdave1983)
Live at the American Airlines Arena : (Miami, FL – 2/27/2012)
The last leap year was 2008. It was this year when the veteran English rock band Radiohead last toured the United States in promotion of their famous “Pay-What-You-Want” album In Rainbows. It’s 2012, and this leap year has cosmically aligned the stars to summon Radiohead back to the United States for their first tour in four years. This time it’s their eighth studio album The King of Limbs that has taken center stage. The leap year brought good fortune to my hometown of Miami since it was the launch pad for their 2012 U.S. Tour, which is completely sold out nationwide as stated on their website. Personally, it’s the first opening show of a music tour I ever attend. It’s pretty damn cool because you essentially get to witness a new musical experience before anyone else in the world. The feeling of the unknown made it all the more enjoyable. The lights dimmed, the crowd screamed, and the lads strolled out onstage very nonchalantly. Thom Yorke settles into his spot and politely says, “Good evening.” The crowd screams even more. Thom speaks into the microphone once more and says, “First show…” Sensing the unmistakable feeling in the air, they proceeded to share the unknown.
As they opened with “Bloom,” the first track off The King of Limbs, a massive cloud of “smoke” descended upon us with its psychoactive effects, which most certainly amplified the blasting illuminations of the screens/light panels on stage. Picture one of those random color light cycle displays when a song plays on Windows Media Player amplified by like x1000, and you’ll visually see what was going on. This was prevalent in their staple electronic tracks “The National Anthem” and “Idioteque.” These visual displays made the experience otherworldly. I saw reminders of the Cylon Basestar motherships from sci-fi TV series Battlestar Galactica flashing before my eyes. I saw reminders of the Animus memory program from the video game series Assassin’s Creed. It was really up to one’s visual interpretation.
Still, there were moments where you’d come back to earth for a while, where the lights would quiet down and take a breather. You’d find these pauses in visual stimulation on tracks like “Meeting in the Aisle,” which was the first time they have ever performed it live. See what I mean about the feeling of the unknown? That feeling also led us to the unexpected debut of two brand new songs entitled “Cut a Hole” and “Identikit.”
An impressive stage display was the 12 individual screens floating above the band. Each screen would individually pivot and rotate in every possible direction without touching each other. It was like watching zero gravity occurring right in front you. You would just wonder when are the band and the instruments going to join them in suspended animation.
Another impressive stage display was Thom Yorke himself. The lead singer has dance moves that are part monkey, part samba, part nonsense, part LSD, part robot, part appliance and whole range of other things that move strangely. It’s funny to see people stand up in front of you and attempt to “Thom Yorke” and fail effortlessly. For visual reference on how to “Thom Yorke”, you can view the music video for “Lotus Flower” and learn for free.
Radiohead’s uniqueness and perplexing personality translates seamlessly into their merchandise. My brother managed to snag three items in particular. One was a tour poster that was limited to 300 pieces. It is solid black with the venue location and date in florescent, hot pink lettering. As opposed to a generic poster with all the tour dates on it, my theory is that each date on the tour will have their own unique poster to lay claim to, which would make for one hell of collect them all hunt if true. Since I couldn’t unfurl the poster, here’s the picture of the second item, the tour t-shirt that has the exact same design as the poster for that night.
The third item was probably the best one that was available. It’s a plush doll of a strange, alienish, grey thing that comes right out of Radiohead’s artistic mind. It’s black eyes are Velcro so that you can play peek-a-boo with it when you’re alone. It’s patched up with a random panel sequence of words from the dictionary.
For being the tour’s opening night, the performance was pretty flawless. The only hiccups were some silly moments were Thom had to refer to the set list about two or three times to remember what was being played, and one instance where he had to stop and start the song “Give Up The Ghost” over. Other than that, it was a performance of worthy of one of the greatest bands of the last 20 years. The final song was “Karma Police,” and it was perfectly fitting to end the night with its lyrics: “This is what you get when you mess with us…and for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself.”